Born on 10th February 1948 at Chhattabal, Srinagar, Kashmir, Maharaj Krishen Raina (MKR) is a civil engineer by profession. Having worked in his professional capacity at Baramulla in JandK Flood Control Deptt, at Uri in Uri Hydel Project, at Kangan in Civil Investigation wing of Power Development Deptt, and finally on Upper Sindh Hydel Project â€“ Phase-II at Kangan and Sumbhal, MKR migrated to Jammu in February 1990 at the height of militancy in the Valley. In 1995, he shifted along with his family to Mumbai for a peaceful living and for providing better education to his children. He is now settled in Vasai, a northern suburb of Mumbai.
By Maharaj Krishen Raina
Arinimaal, the poetess wife of Bhawanidas Kachroo, a Persian poet himself, was born, as we understand from the available literature, sometime in 18th century. It is said that like Lalla Ded and Habba Khatoon, her family life was unhappy, which was the main source of inspiration for her poignant poetry. Ultimately Bhawanidas Kachroo deserted her and she lived mostly in her father’s home.
Some Muslim writers and critics do nor subscribe to this story. In their opinion, Arinimaal never existed. Prominent among them, Mr. Amin Kamil has this to say (Kuliyat Habba Khatoon - Published 1995) :
“Alongwith Habba Khatoon, the name of Arinimaal is often propped up. And comparing the (literary aspect of) both, Arinimaal is said to merit above Habba Khatoon. But the fact is that no ‘Gonmath’ with the name of Arinimaal ever existed. This, in fact, is the result of a wrong thinking, and so much has been said and conveyed of her, that her existence now becomes undoubtful.”
In a ‘Talk’ broadcasted by Srinagar Radio in Oct. 1988, Amin Kamil categorically rejected the existence of a poet of this name. He however opines, “One could differ with me on this issue, but it does not mean we must bury our opinions. If this trend (of not allowing others to put forth their point of view) continues to be adopted in literature, it can not flourish and research will come to a halt”. But in the same breath, he pronounces his judgement, “However, the main issue is that, when Arinimaal did not exist at all, attributing poems to her or discussing anything related to her, is just without any meaning."
Does Amin Kamil's statement carry any weight? What are the views of other writers and scholars on this account?
According to the 'History of Kashmiri Literature' by A.K.Rahbar, Arinimaal was born in 1738 A.D. and she passed away in 1778 A.D. Prof. Hajini refutes this year of her death and says that she died in 1800 A.D. With this, Prof. Hajini confirms that the Poetess existed.
In his book 'Gems of Kashmiri Literature', Shri T.N.Kaul writes, "As was the common practice during Afghan rule, Arinimaal too was married in her childhood to Munshi Bhawani Das Kachru, a renowned Persian poet, scholar and savant. He belonged to a respectable family settled in Rainawari, Srinagar and held a position of honour in the court of Jumma Khan, who was the Afghan governor of Kashmir from 1788 to 1792." Elaborating about Arinimaal, Shri Kaul says, "Arnimal was a talented, sensitive and sophisticated girl, deeply devoted to her husband. Apparently, she was quite happy in the new surroundings and had a carefree time throughout her childhood days before attaining adolescence. But just before flowering into full womanhood, she got a feeling that her husband was too preoccupied with his literary and other pursuits to pay proper attention to her. She tried hard to draw him towards her but fate had planned it otherwise. Munshi Bhawani Das, for some unknown reasons ignored her, tortured her and tormented her." About Arinimaal's compositions, Shri Kaul says, "Arinimaal excelled in Vatsun, the genre originally evolved by Habba Khatoon 200 years earlier. Several of her delectable creations are extant. All that she had written, has not been retrieved so far. Only about two dozen lyrics have passed to the successive generations by word of mouth."
In his book 'Kashmiri Sahitya Ka Itihas' published by J&K Academy of Art, Culture and Languages in 1985, Shashi Shekhar Toshakhani, a well known scholar writes:
"When barbaric Afghan invaders were trampling the Kashmir valley in the 18th century, this poetess (Arinimaal) was composing the 'komal' poems. These poems have a special 'colour' - a deep anguish and the simplicity & influence of folk songs which has made an inherent place in the people's mind. Her husband Munshi Bhawani Das Kachru was a famous courtier of the Afghans and also a vetern Persian poet. He abandoned Arinimaal a little time after marriage. This was a great shock to Arinimaal, and this made her a poetess. Born in Palhalan village, about 30 kms. from Srinagar, Arinimaal's beauty and love meant nothing for her husband in comparison to his royal appellations. To attract her husband, this young poetess did everything possible, to mould herself in the royal ambience. She learned royal etiquettes and music, but this had no effect on her husband. . . . . . In spite of the neglect and disgrace, she continued to consider her husband as her beloved, and believed that one day he would come back to her. And once he did come, dejected by the superficial glitter of his courtiership, but it was too late. Having waited for him all through her life, she died at a young age of 41 years. This may only be a hearsay, but the agony of her wounded love, and the restlessness on account of her desire for proximity to her lover, became the main theme of her poetry. . . . Like Habba Khatoon, Arinimaal was not the beloved of a king, but the beauty and intensity of her thirst for love and the painful manifestation of craving in her poetry, made considerable impact on the people's mind."
Another writer Jawahar Kaul Ganhar writes about the Poetess thus:
"It is said that Arinimaal was married in her childhood to Munshi Bhawani Dass Kachroo. Bhawani Dass was a respected person in the Afghan court. Jumma Khan, the Governor of Kashmir from 1788 to 1792, was less harsh than other Pathan rulers and he respected scholars and patronised the men of learning. By dint of hard work and intelligence, Bhawani Dass acquired mastery in Persian. Afghan dignitaries and officials were surprised over his calibre and erudition. He was a poet in Persian language. His Persian poems, entitled “Bahar-i-Tavil” is considered a major contribution to the Persian language. He wrote under the pen name of 'Naiku'. The early period of Arinimaal’s married life was happier one. But these days did not last long. Her husband who was an important person in the Darbar fell into bad company and deserted her. Due to this, Arinimaal’s heart broke and she became dejected and forlorn. Possibly due to this painful separation, she must have taken to poetry. Arinimaal sang of love, beauty and sorrow. Her poetry speaks of agony, dejection, pathos and disappointments. Her poetry melts the people’s hearts. Through her poetry, one comes across how she loved her husband. After separation, she returned to her parents’ house who were kind and sympathetic towards her. After some time, Bhawani Dass realised that he had been unkind to his wife. He decided to be with her again. He proceeded towards her village, and when he reached Palhalan, he saw that she was being carried for cremation. And it was too late. The people of the village used to cut jokes at her expense. But it did not change her. It is said that, at an advanced age, Arinimaal took to the spinning wheel and spent her days in the hope that one day her love (husband) will return."
So much in detail about the Poetess, but Amin Kamil considers all this a cooked story and myth. Let us take a look at what another vetern Muslim poet Abdul Ahad Azad thinks of her. In the first volume of ‘Kashmiri Zaban aur Shairi’, Azad introduces the poetess thus:
“Famous Persian writer Munshi Bhawani Das Kachru was a 'saintly person' and an expert on politics. His wife 'Arinimaal', whom we call Mrs. Bhawani Das, happened to be a jovial with a well balanced temperament. Maiden name of the poetess was 'Hiyamaal' and that at her in-laws was 'Arinimaal'."
Equating Arinimaal with Habba Khatoon, Azad writes, "Like Habba Khatoon, this Hindu devi was also an expert on Persian music. She also tuned her Kashmiri verses with the Persian music. This lady added a second storey to the building constructed by Habba Khatoon, which looks stronger, more beautiful and cleaner than the first storey. Her poems stand at a higher level than those of Habba Khatoon for the emotional elegance, clarity of language and suave usage of idioms, but confined only to her vexations."
Some critics do not consider 'åríní rang gòm shràvan híyè' as that of Arinimaal. They say that it has not been a custom to write one’s pen name at the start of a poem, as the practice in ‘East’ has been to write it at the end. Pt. Jia Lal Kaul is of the opinion that (by writing her pen name first) she weaves a delicate imagery out of her own name. Kamil does not agree with him. He says, word ‘åríní’ has so many times and in so many ways been used in the Kashmiri poetry.
Commenting on Azad's repeated reference to the poetess as ‘Mrs. Bhawani Das’ (and not Arinimaal), and titling a chapter on her with the same name in his book 'Kashmiri Zaban aur Shairi' Vol: 2, Mohd Yousuf Teng, the then Secretary, J&K Akademy of Art, Culture and Languages, Srinagar says, "Azad has titled this chapter as 'Mrs. Bhawani Das'. Since Arinimaal was famous by her own name and also used the same in her verses, there is no reason that she should not be remembered with that name like we do for Lal Ded and Habba Khatoon.' Teng even changes the title of the chapter from 'Mrs. Bhawani Das' to 'Arinimaal'. But Kamil has a different view. He comments, “Teng Sahib does not know that till 1946, ‘Arinimaal’ name had not commanded that amount of fame, which it commanded in 1960.” Kamil gets confused with his own story. Here, he does not refute her existence, but only advocates that Azad Sahib was right in naming her Mrs. Bhawani Das as against Arinimaal because this name had not been very famous.
To add more weight to his argument, Kamil says, "Abdul Ahad Azad refers to her eleven times as Mrs. Bhawani Das and four times as Arinimaal. It seems that he has straightway taken her name and biodata, even the word 'Mrs' from Kaul Sahib. Even dissimilarity in the style of writing 'Arinimaal' clearly points out that this name had not made any impact till 1946, when Azad's book was published."
As we know, there was no standardised script for Kashmiri language earlier. This was also reflected by Azad himself when he recorded, "Non-conforming standard of the present script is responsible for the under development of Kashmiri language. The script in the present form can not represent the 'sur and awaz' of the language".
Government constituted Script Committees in 1951 and 1954. Amin Kamil himself writes in 'Kashmiri Zabaan aur Shairi' Volume 1 published in 1959: "Now the script for Kashmiri language has been developed, which is becoming very popular. So there should be no problem on this account".
Kamil is basically not comfortable with Azad projecting the Poetess's names (Hiya Mal and Arinimaal), saying these names were not repeated in the second volume of the book. This itself is contrary to the facts. It is correct that Azad had titled the chapter as 'Mrs. Bhawani Das', which eventually Mr. Teng changed. But Azad has at the start of this chapter noted, "About 200 years after Malika Habba Khatoon, a Pandit devi poetess was born with high intellect in Palhalan, 19 miles to the west of Srinagar. Her real name was Arinimaal." Azad continues further, "Some of the writings of Arinimaal have been lost. Some of it has transferred from generation to generation by the word of mouth, like that of Habba Khatoon. Since this poetess also possessed tremendous expertise in music, she has been able to preserve some of her writings in various meters and rhymes of music.
Kamil's conclusion is that Azad wrote only what was conveyed to him. This in turn means that a person like Azad gave place to myths and fabricated statements in his book and did not do anything on his own!
Let us consider what Kamil himself has to say about Azad (Kashmiri Zaban aur Shairi, Volume 2):
"Considering that Azad was not highly qualified, his evaluation of reason, politeness in writing, extent of thought and vision, and scholarly ways tell us all about his great personality and wisdom. It is correct that some times you come across tautology, conflict of views and inconsistent way of deriving conclusions in his work, but in spite of all this, you will accept it as a historical achievement."
There are a few anomalies in the statement of various writers locating Arinimaal’s paternal home. Azad says she belonged to Palhalan. Avtar Krishen Rehbar also refers to her as ‘palhàlanûch rångìn tåbíyat gàmû kùr’. Kamil says that he did not find mention of ‘palhàlan màlyún chhúy’ in any of the poems he collected and compiled into a book titled ‘lòlû nagmû’ as late as 1965. Obviously, he had not included Azad’s poem in the collection. However, according to Jia Lal Kaul (Studies in Kashmiri), Arinimaal was born and brought up in a house in Srinagar.
Was Arinimaal born in Srinagar or at Palhalan? The statements are at variance. But this variation only shows that much work has not been done to collect correct and authentic information about the poetess. This however, does not provide a proof that the Poetess did not exist at all. Kamil makes his own conclusions, “Habba Khatoon was, but Arinimaal was invented. The former was given a colourful appearance to make her a ‘Afsana’ but the latter was casted as a poetess by attaching commendable poetry to her name”. He does not indicate who tried to make Habba Khatoon a ‘Afsana’ and why?
For a comparison, let us study the phenomena of varied statements in respect of the great poetess Habba Khatoon:
Regarding birth place of the Poetess, Birbal Kachroo & Mohi-ud-Din Foq say that she was born at Tsandahar village. Gulistan-e-Shahi tells us that she was brought up at Tsandahar (It does not mention her place of birth). Masnavi Habba Khatoon gives her birth place as China while Malla Habib of Hajin claims it to be Gurez.
Regarding Habba Khatoon's first marriage and subsequent divorce, Birbal Kachroo says that she was married to one from her own clan. Her in-laws were against her passion for singing, so she was divorced. Hassan Khoihami says that she was married to a vile-natured and pauper person’. She got in conflict with her in-laws because of the vicious character of her husband, and finally the divorce took place. Anees Qazimi, quoting from ‘Gulistane Shahi’ writes that Habba Khatoon, on her mother’s death was brought up by Abdi Rather of Tsandhar and he got her married to Kamaal-ud-Din of Jamalata, her maternal cousin. According to Hanfi (Masnavi Habba Khatoon) Malik Darob, the king of China gifted his daughter (Habba Khatoon) to Khoja Hayaband, a businessman of Srinagar, in exchange of 3300 Mohars, which Malik Darob owed him but was not able to pay. Hayaband brought Habba Khatoon to Kashmir, where he got her married to his son Khoja Lal. After an intriguing drama of events, Khoja Lal pinned the ‘divorce paper’ to her robe while she was asleep upon his knee at Pantachhan. Another writer Malla Habib has a yet different version. According to him, a ‘Boutta Raja’ of Gurez owed one ‘manut’ (one and a half seer) of gold to Khoja Hayaband and his son Habba Lala of Lalahom village. Not in a position to pay, he handed his daughter (Habba Khatoon) to them and they brought her to their village. Hayaband got his son married to Habba Khatoon, but they could not pull on because Habba Khatoon's in-laws considered her poetry very offensive. Once, on their return from the city, Habba Khatoon and her husband rested a while at Athwajan, where Habba Khatoon fell asleep. Habba Lala pinned the ‘letter’ to her robe and left.
Regarding Habba Khatoon's union with Yusuf Shah Chak, different people have given different versions. Abdul Wahab Shayaq writes that when Yusuf Shah was coronated, he had a high calibre saint-poetess named Habiba (in his court!). Birbal Kachroo says that after desertion by her in-laws, she was spotted by Yusuf Shah’s men. Fascinated by her beauty and voice, they took her to the prince (Yusuf Shah). He was highly impressed by her beauty, so he married her. Hassan Khoihami has this to say, “She (after divorce from her first husband) was sighted by Yusuf Shah while she was reciting a Kashmiri poem. Yusuf Shah could not control himself and the next day he presented lot of wealth to her parents and married her”. Mohd. Din Foq says, “One day, while singing in her fields, she was spotted by Yusuf Shah. He got attracted to her. He summoned her husband and paid him five thousand Dirhams to divorce her. Then Yusuf Shah married her”. Masnavi Habba Khatoon has another story to relate. It says, “Yusuf Shah dreamed that a beautiful woman (after being divorced by Khoja Lala) got drowned in the river at Pantachhan. He left for the place on a horse and also sent his Darbari poet Mulla Salman in a ‘Parand’ to rescue her. They came to know of her abilities while she pointed our certain discrepancies in the musical notes of Mulla Salman. Yusuf Shah brought her to his palace and kept her, not as his wife, but as a counsellor and advisor”.
What do the above variations indicate? Do they provide a proof that the stories were cooked and that there was no Habba Khatoon?
Arinimaal’s poem ‘mê shòkû yàrû sûndí bårímas pyàlû tû, àlav dìtòsè’ appeared in the Pratap Magazine (1936 Silver Jubilee Issue) among ten of the ‘Prachlit Geet’, not attributed to any author. The same poem had already appeared in the book ‘Studies in Kashmiri’ authored by Jia Lal Kaul, where it was attributed to Arinimaal. Akhtar Mohi-ud-Din has an objection, not for showing this poem later as a ‘Prachlit Geet’, but for having it previously attributed to Arinimaal?
There can be lapses while compiling and editing volumes. If the relevant poem was falsely attributed to Arinimaal (as Mr. Akhtar seems to communicate) in his book by Mr. Kaul way back in 1968, it is strange that no body pointed out to this anomaly till August 1978.
Regarding lapses in publication, Mr. Kamil has already come across such a situation. He corroborates, “I was able to get seven ‘bands’ of ‘dòlkì shàr’ written by Nunda Dar Katheel from Qadeem Shah of Sadrabal. I handed over two of them to Hajini for inclusion in the book ‘käshír shäyírì’. Instead of giving any reference to Qadeem Shah, Hajini referred to them as ‘zabaani revayath’.
Contrary to the doubts expressed by learned writers regarding her existence, Arinimaal continued to be popular among the masses. Azad says, "Had the charismatic narration of Habba Khatoon and Mrs. Bhawani Das not maintained this exclusiveness (of love poetry), most of their verse would have not found place in the literal and universal congregations. Since the verses were sweet and melodious, and very popular with the public in general, other poets also followed this trend."
Above statement cannot be termed as a casual statement by Azad. He must have been witness to the popularity of Arinimaal's verses. And if there was no Arinimaal, there would be none of her verses and thus no popularity. Now, where did Azad find her verses popular with the public? Did he travel extensively to know the facts. This is what Mohd. Yusuf Teng has to say in this regard: "This work of Azad (Kashmiri Zabaan aur Shairi) is the first memoir of Kashmiri language and literature, as also its first history and almost first critical appreciation. Azad is the first Kashmiri researcher who travelled through length and breadth of Kashmir to study the genealogy of poets and trace their poetry. He met their relatives and friends, and faced their frowns and refrains. But he continued with his mission."
Jia Lal Kaul’s book ‘Kashmiri Lyrics’ (1945) changes the name of the Poetess from ‘Rani’ to ‘Mrs. Bhawani Das - Arinimaal’. Mr Kamil considers this a clever move to make the name more receptive (in the public).
It has been customary for Kashmiri Pandits to give their brides a new formal name as also a pet name. This pet name has always been used by one and all in a family, with a touch of love and respect. Hiyamal became Arinimaal for the world and 'Rani' for the inmates. Referring to her as Rani, does not restrain anybody from referring her as Arinimaal.
One point needs attention and analysis. About Azad's work, Mohd. Yusuf Teng writes on 12.11.81:
"Manuscripts of the Ab. Ahad Azad's book 'Kashmiri Zabaan aur Shairi' were divided into three parts. First part consisted of general studies of the language and literature, critical appreciation and comments. The committee which compiled the manuscripts for this part comprised Mr. Mohd. Amin Kamil, Prof. Shakeel-ul-Rehman and Dr. Padam Nath Ganju. And this part was published in 1959."
One fails to understand that Mr. Kamil, who was a member of the above Committee had no objection whatsoever to the content of Azad's manuscripts. In fact, the content was compiled and okayed by the said committee before it was printed in 1959. Why did he have to wait till 1988 to express his modified view point on air, or till he edited the book on 'Habba Khatoon' in the year 1995? It is important to note that Abdul Ahad Azad died in the year 1948 and was not alive to counter Kamil's theory.
Professor Margoob Banihali states in the 15th Edition of Anhar, Volume 12 (1989) that Arinimaal gave birth to two children, but they did not live. Because of this, her in-laws developed hate for her.” Kamil does not accept this theory. He doubts Banihali's statement.
Kamil says, “It was said that Arinimaal returned to her paternal home immediately after her marriage (without any issue). But on learning from ‘Tawareekhe Hasan’ that Birbal Dhar was married to Munshi Bhawani Das’s daughter, Rehbar Sahib (Avtar Krishen Rehbar), in order to save the situation from going out of hands, conceived a novel idea that possibly Bhawani Das had married twice”.
There is every possibility of Rehbar's statement being correct. There are so many instances to show that Pandits till recent past, married more than once. And one thing is not clear. Instead coming to conclusion that Arinimaal’s childless theory was wrong, Kamil is bent upon proving that the woman did not exist at all.
Akhtar Mohi-ud-Din, in a letter to Kamil says, “There is some difference in the texts of ‘mê shòkû yàrû sûndí bårímas pyàlû tû’ as given in Jia Lal Kaul’s ‘Studies in Kashmiri’, and that given in the ‘Pratap’ Magazine by the same compiler. Some times I doubt whether the wife of Bhawani Das Kachroo was a poet at all? If she was, was she named Arinimaal?”
There are numerous instances to show that verses of various poets have been recorded differently at different places. Even Amin Kamil accepts this in the Chapter 4 of his book ‘Kulyat Habba Khatoon’. He records, “Our old poetry has passed from one generation to another through word of mouth only. So some was lost and some was saved. Some reached us in the original form, and some lost its shape.” 'Kulyat Habba Khatoon' stands testimony to this fact, as the author has painstakingly recorded the changed versions (or the original versions?) in the margins. If Mr Kaul has recorded two forms of the same verse at two different places, only he is to take blame. This however does not nullify very existence of the author.
Kamil Sahib refers to ‘Bahare Gulshan Kashmir’, a collection of poems of Kashmiri Persian writers, published in two volumes in 1931, which, according to him, also contained Kashmiri poems of Lalla Ded and Ropa Bhawani as examples. “Had there been an Arinimaal, she would not have been ignored by its compilers”, he says. Kamil Sahib does not mention if Habba Khatoon was included? If she also did not figure in the said collection, does it mean that there was no Habba Khatoon?
At another place, Kamil writes, “Let us not forget that Mahmud Gaami is a historical fact and Arinimaal a conceived character.” All this to show that the poem ‘åríní rang gom shràvan híyè’ is that of Mehmud Gaami and not that of Arinimaal.
On the controversy regarding this poem, Azad has this to say, "We often find such lamentation in the verses of Arinimaal. ... This poem has been published in the name of Mehmud Gaami, but the circumstantial evidence and peculiarity of the ode tell us that it reflects the emotions of Mrs. Bhawani Das."
T.N.Kaul in his book 'Gems of Kashmiri Literature' writes: "It will not be out of place to mention here that some cussed and overzealous literary critics have wrongly attributed one of Arinimaal's most pathetic ditties - 'åríní rang gom shràvan híyè', to her contemporary, Mahmud Gami (1765-1855)." T.N.Kaul further writes:"However a 90 year old descendant of the Kachru family told this author (Kaul himself) in an exclusive interview in Srinagar in 1987 that Arinimaal had herself also recorded a large number of her poems while she remained separated from her beloved at Palhalan village. After her death, these creations were handed over to the old man's ancestors who kept them in safe custody. But in view of the atrocities perpetrated by the Afghans in the closing years of their rule on the civilian population and the consequent risk of damage to the invaluable poems, the Kachrus were obliged to deposit this treasure in a 'Chah' (dry well) near the Hari Parbat hill.
Shashi Shekhar Toshakhani, in his book 'Kashmiri Sahitya ka Itihas' clarifies further. He writes: "This is one of the most popular Kashmiri songs, because of its melody and compassion. It is so popular that Mehmud Gaami, a famous poet has also used its few lines in one of his poems. Because of this, some critics like Ghulam Nabi Khayal consider it to be originally of Mehmud Gaami. But by detailed analysis and comparison, Autar Krishen Rehbar has proved that the basic lines are that of Arinimaal only. Rehbar has clearly shown that these are two different poems, only its refrain, 'åríní rang gom shràvan híyè' is common in both."
There are several instances where verse of one poet has wrongly (may be inadvertently) been attributed to other. This is amply clarified by the following instance:
Commenting on the confusion regarding year of birth of Mehmud Gaami, Naji Munawar writes, "After going through the manuscripts titled 'Yakh Hakayath' and 'Ponpuri' we can come to the conclusion that either the Mehmud's era has wrongly been calculated ..... or, there has been another poet named Mehmud, whose verse has got messed up with that of Mehmud Gaami, like, some of Maqbool Amritsari's poetry was being printed in the name of Maqbool Kralawari."
Kamil does not stop here. Regarding ‘kävi víhínúm aríníní ...’ poem, he says, “This is said to have been attributed to Arinimaal only because it contained the word ‘Arini’. It is clear that this poem was not attached to her as late as 1946." Azad, on the other hand assumes the poem to be that of Munshi Bhawani Das. In another twist to the issue, Kamil feels pleasure in putting this poem in the basket of Habba Khatoon. He says, “This poem is also said to be that of Habba Khatoon. And genuinely so, because she has, during her royal times, composed some poems with twisted words (lafzû gyúnd kåríth). This poem also contains the same twist.” Kamil does not mention who told him so and with what proof?
Another point of contention has been the verse 'tarvûní margû tû vasvûní bàlò', in the poem 'mê shòkû yàrû sûndí bårímas pyàlay', as it appeared in the Pratap Magazine edited by Jia Lal Kaul in the year 1936. Amin Kamil, as also Akhtar Mohi-ud-Din are of the view that the verse should read 'khasvûní margû tu vasvûní bàlò'. They use it as a proof of bungling by Mr. Kaul.
Literary, a 'marg' is the plain area at the top of a mountain or between the mountains, which can only be crossed and not ascended. Hence, 'tarvûní margû' is more authentic.
By Maharaj Krishen Raina
Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin ruled Kashmir from 1420 to 1470 AD. Son of Sultan Sikandar, under whose rule Islamic zeal attained fanatical proportions, Zain-ul-Abidin proved to be the most tolerant and benevolent ruler that Kashmir had known.
It has been correctly remarked that 'history can give few examples where the policy of the father was so completely reversed by his son. Sultan Zain-ul- Abidin's rule was in the words of Srivara 'like the cooling sandal paste after the heat of a summer in a desert had departed.'
When Sultan Zain-Ul-Abdin was on death bed, and all his royal physicians had failed miserably to cure him of some dangerous disease, there appeared a noble man on the scene, who volunteered to treat the King with his knowledge and healing powers. Though there are different theories about the kind of illness, which the great king was suffering of, it is well established that he was cured by one and the only Shri Bhatta, a Yogi and renowned Hakeem of his times.
Walter Lawrence, in his book 'The Valley of Kashmir' writes, "The chief glory of Zainul- Abidin was his tolerance towards the Brahmans and regarding this a curious tale is told. It is said that the king was on the point of death, when a Hindu Jogi volunteered to give his soul for the dying monarch on condition that his body should be preserved in some safe place. The king took the Jogi's soul but burnt the body, and thenceforward, the real king of Kashmir was not Zain-ul-Abidin but the Hindu ascetic. Whatever may have been the cause, it is true that from the time of this illness, the king manifested every desire to repair the wrongs inflicted on the Hindus by Sikandar. He remitted the Jazia or poll-tax on Hindus, taught them Persian and encouraged them by grant of lands and in many other ways. He repaired some of Hindu temples, among others, the temple on Takht-i-Sulaiman, and he revived Hindu learning. The result of this religious tolerance was the return of the exiled Pandits.
PNK Bamzai says that no account of Zain-ul-Abidin's reign can be complete without the mention of this great physician, who cured the king. In his book 'Culture and Political History of Kashmir', the author says, "When on his recovery, the king wanted to make a valuable gift to the Pandit, the latter refused to take it." To the offer of valuable gifts from the King, the great Hakeem is said to have told him in no unclear terms, "The only gift I will receive, is the removal of all restrictions on the Pandits imposed by Sikandar including the poll tax." It is said that the king while eulogising Shri Bhatt on his concern for the welfare of the members of his community, readily granted him the request. Bamzai goes on to say that thereafter the Pandits performed their religious functions without let or hindrance and most of them who had left the Valley at the religious persecution of Sikandar returned to their homeland.
According to one theory, the King got a poisonous boil which gave him trouble. The court physicians tried their skills but failed. Jonaraja, a great historian says, "As flowers are not obtainable in the month of Magha on account of the mischief by snow, even so physicians who knew about poisons could not at that time be found in the country owing to governmental opressions. The servants of the king at last found out Shri Bhatta, who knew the antidotes of poisons and was well versed in the art of healing, but out of fear, he for a long time delayed to come. When he arrived, the king gave him encouragement and he completely cured the king of the poisonous boil. The king wanted to make munificent gifts to Shri Bhatta. But the latter refused to accept any. But when pressed hard, he made a request which was to the effect that the Jazia on the Brahmans be remitted and opportunities be assured to them to develop their mental and moral resources without any let or hinderance." Such was the concern, the great Hakeem had for his people. The king was, it is said, all praise for him, and was so moved, that he granted all his wishes. Quoting Jonaraja, J.L.Kilam, the author of 'A History of Kashmiri Pandits' says, "The selflessness displayed by the physician Shri Bhatta had its effect upon the mind of the king. The request was accepted and Jazia was remitted. The Brahman was freed from the position of inferiority to which he was relegated by the previous kings." According to the author, Shri Bhatta's selflessness and the acceptance of his request by the king proved a land-mark in the history of Hinduism in Kashmir. Shri Bhatta's attitude shows that the will to live as a group by themselves was very predominant amongst the Brahmans which was shared by Shri Bhatta in an equal measure with the whole lot of them. Freed from the shackles of Jazia and other handicaps, the Brahmans started their own reorganisation and rehabilitation.
By Maharaj Krishen Raina
Avantivarman, the founder of Utpala dynasty, came to power in 855 AD and ruled Kashmir for 28 years. His peaceful and just reign was a period of consolidation, when Kashmir rose once again to great heights in the realms of philosophy, letters, art and architecture. He is well remembered for his founding the city of Avantipura, 17 kms. from Srinagar on the banks of river Jhelum, which is still called by the same name. During his rule, he also constructed the temple dedicated to Shiva Avanteshwara. The ruins, adjacent to to Jammu - Srinagar highway are among the most imposing monuments of ancient Kashmiri architecture, ranking next only to the Martand temple.
Kashmir was liable to floods owing to which it yielded little produce. King Lalitaditya, who ruled Kashmir during mid 8th century,had with great exertions, drained out some water from the valley after which it produced, to some extent, better crops. During the weak rule of the later Karkotas, the drainage operations had been neglected, with the result that floods were devastating the country as frequently as ever. Avantivarman and the people were in veritable despair. The king was very much grieved because of the famine and thought of several plans for the relief of the people. At that time, it is said, through the merits of Avantivarman, there descended to the earth the Lord of Food (Annapati) himself, in the person of the illustrious Suyya, to give fresh life to the people.
The origin of Suyya is not known. His birth is woven in mystery. By his acts, which were wonders of the world, it became certain that he had not been born from a woman’s womb. It is saidthat as a baby, he was found in a covered earthen pot on the roadside, from where he was picked up by a Chandala woman named Suyya while she was sweeping the road. She got him nourished in the house of a Sudra woman, who named him after that of his adopted mother. He grew up into an intelligent youth and having obtained some education, became a teacher of the local boys. Possessed as he was of a sharp intellect, there was always a cluster of sensible men around him.
Suyya came to be known as a great engineer of King Avantivarman’s court.Owing to the waterlogged condition of Kashmir due to constant flooding, cultivation had declined. Suyya found that the recurrence of flood in the valley was due to the waters of the Vitasta which could not get with considerable swiftness through the gorge, some three miles below Baramulla as the compressed passage got blocked with boulders. He removed the rocks and built some stone-walls to protect their further sliding. He also constructed new beds for the river. As a result of these activities, thousands of acres of arable land were reclaimed and hundreds of new villages sprang up on these sites.
The great chronicler Kalhana reveals a curious story about Suyya on this issue. Whenever there was a talk of famine, Suyya would say that he knew how to banish this monster if he were provided with the means. King Avantivarman came to know of Suyya’s observationand summoned him to his presence. Questioned as to what he was saying, Suyya repeated the same words. He would not explain his scheme and so the courtiers declared him to be mad. Yet the king wanted to test him and placed his treasures at his disposal.
Suyya took many pots full of money in a boat and started towards Madavarajya, the southers district of the Valley. He threw a pot of money at a village called Nandaka (Nandi on the Vashau river) which was submerged with flood water and then hastily returned, going to Yakshadar near Khadanyar below Baramulla and threw handfuls of money into the river. People were sure Suyya was mad. The king however wished to watch the result of his doing. The famine-stricken people, who were watching Suyya’s operations, at oncejumped into the river near Dyaragul and in order to find the precious coins, cleared the bed of rocks which had rolled down into the river bed. This accelerated the flow of water, which speedily drained out. The submerged land re-appeared. The pot full of money, which he had dropped in deep water at Nandaka, came into full view.
Kalhana’s topographical exactnessis strikingly revealed from his accounts of the regulation of the waters of the Vitasta by Suyya, which help us to trace the original course of the river and the changed course. Previously the Vitasta and the Sindh met near Trigami, turning a large area into a swamp. But Suyya planned their confluence at Shadipur and regulated the course of the Vitasta in such a manner that it flowed right through the Wular Lake. The course of the tributaries was also regulated in a similar manner. The water was channelled for irrigation purposes and each village was allotted as much water as was necessary for its crops. Suyya had many villages reclaimed from marshy tracts by having circular embankments raised all round them to Suyya Pandit keep out water, so that they looked like round bowls and hence were named Kundala. Some villages, for instance Utsa Kundal, Mara Kundal etc. retain this designation even to this day. However, the irrigation operations of Suyya, removing the junction of the river Vitasta and Sindhu from Parihaspura to Shadipur, resulted in Parihaspura losing most of its importance. It is said that he built a temple of Hrashikesha Yogasayin at the new confluence.
Suyya supplemented these measures by an equally important step of improving the irrigation system, which was indispensable for the cultivation of the staple food of Kashmir.
In the words of Kalhana, after examining the different classes of land, he procured a supply of river water for the villages, which thus were no longer dependant only on rainfall. After watching all village lands, he took from each village some soil, and ascertained, by observing the time it took to dry up, the period within which irrigation would be required for each soil, respectively. He then arranged accordingly on a permanent basis for the size and distribution of the water-course for each village, and by using various streams for the irrigation, and thereby embellished all regions with an abundance of irrigated fields which were distinguished for excellent produce.
The town Sopore (then Suyyapura), which Suyya built on the banks of the Jhelum river, commemorates his name. He prohibited killing of fish and waterfowl in the Wular lake. He granted the village Suyyakundala to the Brahmins in honour of his mother Suyya and constructed the bund Suyya-setu after her name.(Main Source: Kalhana's Rajatarangini)
By Maharaj Krishen Raina
The period from 1752 to 1819 AD is considered the darkest period in the history of Kashmir. This was the time when Afghans ruled Kashmir and unleashed a reign of terror on the Kashmiri people, especially the Kashmiri Pandits. Under persecution, most of the KPs migrated to places outside Kashmir. Those who stayed back, were either forcibly converted to Islam or ruthlessly killed. It is said that only 11 KP families survived death.
How did Afghans take over the reigns of Kashmir?
According to Prof. Somnath Dhar, the death of Aurangzeb spelled the disintegration of the Mughal empire. The later Mughals, embroiled in internal dissensions, hardly cared for Kashmiris. Governors appointed by the Mughal emperors would nominate deputies to carry on administration on their behalf. Hindus and Shias were persecuted in the one-year regime of one such nominee Mir Ahmed Khan. Things came to a head with Ahmed Shah Abdali establishing supremacy over Afghanistan and making successful forays into north-western India. In 1753, he established Afghan rule in Kashmir. P.N.K.Bamzai adds: 'While back at Lahore (after his struggle with Muin-ul-Mulk, the governor of Punjab in 1751 when Ahmad Shah Abdali over ran the province and also entered into a treaty with emperor Ahmad for ceding Punjab and Multan to Afghanistan), Ahmad Shah Abdali received an invitation from the leaders of Kashmir to rid the kingdom of cruel governors of the decadent Mughal emperors, and bring it directly under his rule. He sent a strong force of Afghans under his lieutenant Ishk Aqasi on this mission, who after overcoming stiff resistance put up by the Mughal forces in Kashmir, annexed the territory to the expanding kingdom of Abdali.'
Walter R. Lawrence writes: 'As the Mughal empire began to decay, the subahs in Kashmir became independent and high-handed, and in the reign of the emperor Muhamad Shah, the Hindus were greatly oppressed by Abdul Gani and Mulla Sharf-ud-din. Kalashpura, a Hindu ward of the city was set on fire and the Hindus were forbidden to wear turbans. In this reign, the subahs fought among themselves and Kashmir fell into wild disorder. By the year AD 1751, the office of subah of Kashmir appears to have become hereditary and practically independent of Delhi. Then the unfortunate valley passed into the hands of new masters and Kashmir became subject to the Pathan rule, the cruellest and worst of all.'
Pathan governors were known for their savagery and inhuman treatment of Kashmiris in general, and Pandits in particular. Says Forster, "During my residence in Kashmir, I often witnessed the harsh treatment which the common people received at the hands of their masters , who rarely issued an order without a blow of the side of their hatchet, a common weapon of the Afghans. (The) extreme rigour has sensibly affected the deportment and manners of Kashmirians who shrink with dread from the Afghan oppression."
The first Afghan chief to rule Kashmir was Abdullah Khan Isk Aquasi (1753-54). He lined up all the rich Kashmiris and ordered them to part with their wealth or face death. He extracted one crore rupees from the local merchants. It is said that some traders committed suicide because of his torture. J.L.Kilam has this to say about Isk Aquasi: "Aqasi did not stay in Kashmir for more than six months, but even during this short period, he made the ruin of the country complete and left no stone unturned in giving the people a correct idea of what the future would be like. The houses of the poor and rich alike were plundered. Huge fines were imposed on the people. Their property was pillaged without mercy, and those people who incurred his displeasure, were murdered most brutally."
About Afghan rule in general, Walter R. Lawrence writes: 'When we pass from the Mughal period to the period of the Shahani Durani, we pass to a time of brutal tyranny, unrelieved by good works, chivalry and honour. Men with interest were appointed as governors who wrung as much money as they could out of the wretched people of the valley. Amir Khan Jawan Sher was perhaps the best of Pathan rulers, for at least he built the Amira Kadal bridge and the palace of Shergarhi, but on the other hand he showed petty spite in destroying the Mughal gardens on the Dal. Other Pathan rulers are now only remembered for their brutality and cruelty and it is said of them that they thought no more of cutting off heads than of plucking a flower.'
Regarding the miscalculation on part of the Kashmiris in inviting Afghans to rule Kashmir, PNK Bamzai writes: 'Their (Afghan's) rule reduced the Valley to the lowest depths of penury, degradation and slavery. While inviting the Afghans to take over the administration of the Valley, the Kashmiri nobles had mistaken them for a branch of the civilised and humane Mughal emperors of India. They had hoped that after the break up of the central Mughal power, Ahmad Shah Abdali and his successors would give them a stable administration. Little did they imagine that all the beauty and nobility, for which Kashmir and its people were famous, would be wiped off under their rule.'
Jagmohan has this to say about the invitation extended to Afghan rulers: 'Those who invited Ahmad Shah Abdali did not realise that they were really calling a barbarous horde to their garden of nature. The unfortunate people virtually jumped from the frying pan into the fire. And 67 years of brutal Afghan rule caused them untold miseries.'
During Afghan rule, there was a custom among the Pandits to send alongwith the bridegroom, another boy, called 'Pot Maharaza' who would also be dressed like the groom. In case some untoward event happened to the bridegroom, the 'Pot Maharaza' would immediately take his place. It is widely believed that the custom was introduced under stress because in the Pathan times, it was not uncommon for the bridegroom to be seized as he went to wed his bride.
How cruel were Afghans and how they tortured and brutally killed people in general and Pandits in particular? According to Lawrence, the victims of these fiends (Pathan rulers) were the Pandits, the Shias and the Bombas of the Jhelum valley. First in the rank of oppressors, comes Assad Khan who boasted that the savage Nadir Shah was his prototype. It was his practice to tie up the Pandits, two and two, in grass sacks and sink them in the Dal lake. As an amusement, a pitcher filled with ordure would be placed on a Pandit's head and Musalmans would pelt the pitcher with stones till it broke, the unfortunate Hindu being blinded with filth. Mir Hazar was another fiend who used leather bags instead of grass sacks for the drowning of Brahmans. He drowned Shias and Brahmans indiscriminately. A locality on the bank of Dal lake is still called Bata Mazar, the 'Graveyard of Pandits'. PNK Bamzai describes the terror unleashed by Afghans on Kashmiris like this: 'Rude was the shock that the Kashmiris got when they witnessed the first acts of barbarity at the hands of their new masters. Abdullah Khan Ishk Aqasi let loose a reign of terror as soon as he entered the Valley. Accustomed to looting and murdering the subjected people, his soldiers set themselves to amassing riches by the foulest means possible. The well-to-do merchants and noblemen of all communities were assembled together in the palace and ordered to surrender all their wealth on pain of death.' According to PNK Bamzai, those who had the audacity to complain or to resist (the Afghan brutality) were quickly despatched with the sword and in many cases, their families suffered the same fate. Red hot iron bars were applied to the body of a rich Muslim nobleman, Jalil by name. Another, Qazi Khan had to pay an enormous fine of a lakh of rupees, but suspecting that he had not surrendered his all, his son was put to such physical torture that he ended his life by drowning himself in the river.
The kind of torture inflicted on Pandits, as narrated by Lawrence, explains the savage mentality of these fiends. 'Atta Mohd. Khan was a ferocious libertine and his agent, an old woman named Koshib, was the terror of Brahman parents, who rather than allow the degradation of their daughters, destroyed their beauty by shaving their heads or cutting their noses.'
During the Afghan rule, 'Jazia', the poll tax imposed on Pandits, which was earlier remitted by the great king Zain-ul-Abidin, was revived. In those days, it is said that a Muslim, on seeing a Pandit, would jump on his back and take a ride. During the rule of Raja Sukh Jiwan, who asserted his independence from the Kabul in 1754 with the aid of Abdul Hassan Bandey, the Kashmiris enjoyed a brief respite. Sukh Jiwan's career ended in 1762 when Ahmad Shah Abdali sent Nur-ud-Din Bamzai to overthrow him. Sukh Jiwan was captured by Afghan forces and presented before Nur-ud-din Khan, who ordered him to be blinded. In this miserable condition, Sukh Jiwan was carried to Lahore where Ahmad Shah got him trampled to death under the feet of an elephant. Nur-ud-din however returned to Kabul after a year and handed over the administration of Kashmir to Buland Khan Bamzai.
Nur-ud-din Khan Bamzai was again deputed to rule Kashmir in 1764. He appointed Pandit Kailash Dhar, a leading noble of Kashmir as revenue collector. Another noble man Mir Muqim Kanth, whom Nur-ud-din Khan had appointed as his Dewan and whose relations with Kailash Dhar got strained due to their rivalry at the court, induced Khan to force the Pandit to make the payment of stipulated revenue on the daily basis as against monthly basis. This put Kailash Dhar in a difficult situation and at this time, Mir Muqim Kanth was murdered. Kailash Dhar's hand was suspected to be in the murder and to make a clear case, Mir Muqim's relatives produced manipulated proofs against him. Nur-ud-din Khan however did not implicate Kailash Dhar in the conspiracy. Mir Muqim's son Faqir Ullah, not being able to have his grievances redressed at the hands of Nur-ud-din, fled the Valley, with a strong vendetta against Kailash Dhar and his family.
Lal Khan Khattak, a jagirdar of Biru Pargana, attacked governor Jan Muhammad Khan's forces in 1765, defeated him and proclaimed his independence. He let loose his orgy of terror on the Kashmiris, especially the Pandits. He put the members to sword or got them drowned in Dal lake, looted their valuables and thus wiping family after family. Shias also suffered during his time, when it is said, one Hafiz Abdullah, a Shia by faith, was beheaded by a leading Qazi on the allegation that he was propagating the doctrines of his religion disguised as a Sunni. Lal Khan was replaced by another governor Khurram Khan in 1766 who appointed Kailash Dhar as his chief minister.
Faqir Ullah Kanth, who had taken refuge with Raja Muhammad Khan Bomba at Muzaffarabad, induced him to make a bid for the throne in Kashmir. The Bomba chief, carrying his forces to the Valley, out-manoeuvred Khurram Khan with his strategies, as also the superstition of an inauspicious omen seized him (Khurram Khan) and he ordered his forces to retreat. After making a junction with the followers of Lal Khan Khattak at Biru, the Bombas marched into Srinagar. Khurram and Kailash Dhar fled to Kabul and the city fell into the hands of Faqir Ullah Khan and his Bomba supporters. PNK Bamzai writes: 'For a week, the furious Bombas, the traditional enemies of Kashmiris, satiated their thirst for murder and arson on the poor citizens. Shrieks of orphaned children and the wailing of old and infirm women rent the sky. For weeks, the streets of Srinagar emitted nauseating odour from putrefied bodies.'
In order to avenge the murder of his father, Faqir Ullah Khan who ruled the Valley for one year (1767), slew a large number of leading Hindus and forcibly converted 2000 Hindus to Islam. To escape Khan's fury, many left Kashmir leading to a fresh mass exodus of Pandits to the plains of India. PNK Bamzai adds: 'Faqir Ullah Khan, like his predecessors threw off the allegiance to Abdali. And then he gave himself up freely to wine and women under the influence of which, he issued the most cruel orders. A Tyrant as he was, he took special pleasure in perpetrating the most heinous acts. On a trivial provocation, he got his maternal uncle trampled to death under the feet of a horse. No wonder that nearly half the population of Kashmir left the terror-stricken land for good.'
During the governorship of Haji Karim Dad Khan (1776-83), Kashmir entered into the darkest period of its history. He perpetrated untold cruelties on the Kashmiri people during his seven years of rule. He levied numerous taxes and reduced the populace to utter poverty. For the sake of sheer pleasure, he got the numberless Kashmiris drowned in the Dal lake.
Regarding continued oppression of the people at the hands of Haji Karim Dad Khan, PNK Bamzai writers: 'The thirst for blood and money induced Haji Karim Dad Khan to commit the basest acts on the Kashmir people. Without consideration of caste and creed, he levied numerous unjust and killing taxes which resulted in complete impoverishment of the People The rich jagirdars and nobles had to pay a tax called Nazrana, which amounted to four and even six times their income. The traders and shopkeepers had to pay Zari Ashkhas, a sort of levy on goods imported into or exported from the Valley. The farmers had to pay an enormous tax on their produce, and in order to meet the remorseless demands of the tax gatherers, the peasants cut down all the fruit growing trees in the villages, selling them as firewood. Within a month, the whole Valley was denuded of its fruit wealth. Haji Karim Dad took special pleasure in inventing new and novel methods of levying taxes. Once, for example, he purposely kept the tax gatherers, Aslam and Babu in hiding, accusing the Pandit community of their murder. He collected their leading members and keeping them in close confinement, subjected them to suffocating fumes from cowdung. The heartless Haji would not release them until they agreed to pay an annual tax Zari Dood of fifty thousand rupees. He also imposed a heavy tax on Kashmiri shawl trade, innovating the system of Dag Shawl or excise tax on shawls, which later on became such a heavy burden on the poor shawl weavers that they pre ferred death to the weaver's profession.'
Karim Dad Khan died in the year 1783, paving the way for his 18 year old son Azad Khan to take the chair. Azad Khan (1783-85) proved to be more ruthless than his father. He instilled such a terror into his courtiers that they used to tremble before him. In order to end the menace of marauding raids of Khakha and Bomba chiefs of Muzaffarabad into the Valley, Azad Khan collected together an efficient and experienced army, and ordered a host of Kashmiris to collect and carry provisions for them, free of any wages. This forced the peasants to leave their fields unattended, which resulted in a severe famine and heavy toll of human life due to starvation.
Azad Khan committed suicide in 1785, when Islam Khan, Madad Khan's general tried to capture him alive to be produced before Timur Shah, who was thirsty for the revenge of execution of his generals by Azad Khan.
Giving an account of the enormity of crimes committed by Haji Karim Dad Khan and his son Azad Khan against Kashmiris, Forester, who visited Kashmir valley in 1783, writes: ' Though the Kashmirians exclaim with bitterness at the administration of Haji Karim Dad, who was notorious for his wanton cruelties and insatiable avarice often, for trivial offences throwing the inhabitants, tied by the back in pairs, into the river, plundering their property, and forcing their women of every description; yet they say he was systematical tyrant, and attained his purpose, however atrocious, through a fixed medium. They hold a different language in speaking of the son, whom they denominate the Zaulim Khan, a Persian phrase which expresses a tyrant without discernment; and if the smallest portion of the charges against him are true, the application is fitly bestowed. At the age of 18 years, he has few of the vices of youth; he is not addicted to the pleasures of Haram, nor to wine, he does not even smoke the hukha. But his acts of ferocity exceed common belief; they would seem to originate in the wildest caprice and to display a temper, rarely seen in the nature of man. While he was passing with his court under one of the wooden bridges of the city, on which a crowd of people had assembled to observe the procession, he levelled his musket at an opening, which he saw in the pathway, and being an expert marksman, he shot to death an unfortunate spectator. George Forster, an officer of the East India Company, recounts the story about Asad Khan, that was current at that time: 'A film on one of his eyes had baffled the attempts of many operators, and being impassioned at the want of success, he told the last surgeon who he had called in, that if the disorder was not remedied within a limited time, allowing but few days, his belly should be cut open; the man failed in the cure and Azad Khan verified his threat. Azad Khan had in the first three months of his government, become an object of such terror to the Kashmirians, that the casual mention of his name produced an instant horror and an involuntary supplication of the aid of their Prophet.'
Next to step in was Madad Khan. He tried to alleviate the people's sufferings, but the mischievous elements among the officials, started their old game of intrigue and poisoned his ears against the masses. Being enraged, he let loose an orgy of repression and cruelty on his enemies, which in certain cases outdid the acts of his predecessors. Madad Khan was succeeded by Mirdad Khan (1786-88). He appointed Mulla Guffar Khan as the collector of revenue, with whom, he soon entered into a conflict. The gulf between the two widened and not foreseeing any reconciliation between the two, Nishan Khan Durani, Timur Shah's trusted minister whom he had sent to Valley to take stock of the situation, declared that the one who undertook to pay the highest revenue to the Kabul treasury would be accepted as the governor. Mirdad Khan, on providing such undertaking, continued as the governor, but to fulfil his undertaking, he levied enormous taxes and resorted to extortion. After two years of severe rule, Mirdad Khan died.
On the death of Timur Shah in 1793, his son Zaman Shah occupied the throne at Kabul. Mir Hazar Khan, the governor of Kashmir at that time, took advantage of Timur Shah's death and declared his independence. He even imprisoned his father Mirza Khan, who was sent by Zaman Shah to advise his son against taking such step.
Hazar Khan acted right in the footsteps of his tyrannical predecessors. He let loose a reign of terror against Shias and Pandits. Thousands of innocent Pandits tied up back to back in pairs, were once more thrown into the Dal lake. The unfortunate victims' survivors could only wail and cry in distress, without any effect on the ruler.
Jagmohan writes: 'Ruthless exactions and violent suppression were inherent in the attitude of the Afghans. And they went all out to break the will of the people to resist. The Kashmiris were so much subdued that in the latter part of their rule, the Afghans could hold the entire Valley with just 3000 soldiers. In the beginning, they required at least 20,000 soldiers.'
Another Afghan governor, Ata Muhammad Khan had earned notoriety for his insatiable lust for beautiful Kashmiri women. The Hindu parents became so apprehensive that they had the good looks of their girls sullied to evade the attention of the governor's agents.
Jabar Khan was the last Afghan governor to rule Kashmir in 1819. He persecuted the Pandits relentlessly. It is said that he once wanted to test the common notion among Pandits that snow falls invariably on the night of Shivratri. He ordered Pandits to observe this festival in June-July instead of February-March. It so happened that even on this night there was a snowfall, rendering the atmosphere very cold. Jabar Khan ruled Kashmir for only four months.
Tired of persecution by Afghans, Mirza Pandit Dhar and his son Birbal Dhar secretly persuaded Maharaja Ranjit Singh to annex Kashmir. In July 1819, Maharaja Ranjit Singh sent his forces under the command of Misser Diwan Chand, Raja Gulab Singh of Jammu, Sardar Hari Singh, Jwala Singh Padania, Hukum Singh and others. A fierce battle ensued at the top of Pir Panjal and the plateau of Shopian where Afghans were defeated. Jabar Khan hastily fled to Kabul after being wounded in the battle. Thus came an end to the Afghan rule, and Kashmir, after a long period of about 5 centuries, passed again from the Mohammadan rule to Hindu rule.
By Maharaj Krishen Raina
Milchar Jan-Feb 2012
With the publication of Nov-Dec 2011 issue, we have completed a year of new-face Milchar. Whether, we succeeded in providing good and informative reading material to our readers or not, whether we were successful in producing a quality magazine or not, is for our readers to decide. However, going through the letters and mails we received from our readers over the year, gives an indication that we at Milchar, have done our job satisfactorily. We are encouraged.
Producing a community magazine, which is not commercially viable, is definitely a challenging job, both for the editorial staff and the management. Resource crunches, not only put strain on the organisation, but also effect the editorial work in a big way. We can not engage professional columnists, professional graphic designers, professional proof-readers etc. to give our readers an advanced quality journal. We can only approach authors, columnists, photographers, graphic designers etc. mostly from our own community, who are definitely a dedicated lot and carry fire of belonging to the community in their hearts. We are thankful to all of them, for, we never faced a situation where we deferred our publication for want of quality material. We have renowned writers in our community, who spare time from their busy schedules to write for the community journals, and doing it with passion. We salute all of them.
A good editor's quality lies, not in what he wants readers to read, but in producing what readers want to read. In order to know the readers' priorities, it is essential to have regular feedback from them, not only on the content published, but also on what they look forward to read. Unfortunately, in Mumbai, we don't find many who could favour us with their critical comments on the content or suggest improvements in the journal as they would like to see, on a regular basis. We however hope that this does happen sooner or later.
Our enthusiasm in reserving a page titled 'Your Own Page' for our readers, especially our youth, did not make much inroads as far as Mumbai biradari is concerned. The page was meant to provide space to our biradari to publicise their achievements, achievements of their children like meritorious results, awards, rewards, high order placements etc. Though there is good response to this page from people around the world, we would wish our biradari here to share their achievements with us, in text, in photos. Almost same is the case with Crossword Puzzles and Out of Box Columns. We seem to be failing in persuading and encouraging our children to apply their minds on something which connects them to their roots, culture, language and history. Though, the Crossword column has been discontinued now because of nil response, we are optimistic that we will be able to restart it with the initiative of our readers.
One more area where we don't get sufficient material is the local news section. We do get important news concerning our community from across the globe, but there is hardly any news forthcoming from our biradari here. We would not only like to impress upon the members of Mumbai biradari to tell us about important events for publication in Milchar, but would also request members of the BOT and Area Mentors of KPA to report what they think deserve publication. We would like to reiterate that Milchar is your own mouthpiece. Give it a hand, a big hand.
Regarding self-financing of Milchar, it has been stated a number of times that a magazine will survive only if it is able to raise money by way of regular subscriptions and more importantly through advertisements. While we are thankful to all those whose support came instantly through cover advertisements for the 6 issues of 2011, we request our readers to come forward to make Milchar a commercially viable magazine. We intend to make it a Monthly publication in immediate future, but this is possible only if advertisements flow constantly. Those of our readers and well wishers who are associated with the corporate sector or running their own businesses, are requested to lend support in a big way to keep Milchar alive.
For a dedicated reader or a well wisher from the community, a small subscription of Rs. 300.00 per year (Rs. 2500 for Lifetime) is not a big sum. We would request all those who have yet to enroll for Milchar, to send in their subscriptions as early as possible and reinforce our thinking that Milchar is real miltsar and you all support it.
Contact editor at : email@example.com
- Maharaj Krishen Raina
Milchar Sept-Oct 2011
Plagiarism is the process to re-produce or pass off thoughts, writings etc. of other persons in print or any other media and to show it as one’s own. If one copies material from a web forum and pastes it on another without giving proper credits, it is Plagiarism. A plagiarist may or may not necessarily portray him/herself as the author of the material. He/she may only conceal the facts by not giving credits to the real authors, thus allowing the readers to presume that the material really belonged to them. Plagiarism is so rampant in the present-day world that it has really become a serious matter - our websites and our journals being no exception.
Some time back, I got in my mail box a Kashmiri audio titled 'Hillarious Kashmiri Audio Havaliheth'. The mail was redirected to me by one of my friends in US, who had got it from someone in India. The original mail was circulated by one Mr. Kapil Bhat. I was so elated to see people circulating Kashmiri audios presumably to further the cause of Kashmiri language. In the heart of hearts, I paid great tribute to the originator, though slightly irritated for using the same title as that of my story in 'tsok-modur' collection. "But how does it matter if the intent is to put one's creations in Kashmiri on net for benefit of the people", I rediculed myself. Busy going through my mail box to finish the day's job, I did not have the time (or courtesy) to listen to the audio immediately. During my surfing and in the same session, I got two more mails one after the other on the same subject, from Sunil Fotedar and Dalip Langoo, describing the audio as one copied from my internet files (it was the same story I had written years back) and lodging protest with the mail originator. I immediately played the clip and was taken aback. It was of course my own story and in my own voice. The protests (not against circulation but for not giving the author's name in the mail) from various quarters mattered little as the audio continued to be in circulation without any explanation or an amendment from the sender.
Last month, I came across a photo of Royal Spring Golf Course, Cheshma Shahi, on net. It was a fantastic colour photo which I wanted to reproduce on the cover of Milchar. I sent a mail to the photographer requesting for permission to re-produce it. I got the reply immediately, saying that it was not his photo but one copied somewhere from net. The noble man sent me another photograph of a Sadhu (ascetic) preparing for pilgrimage to Amar Nath, this time mentioning that the photo was downloaded from a Pakistani newspaper site. I thanked him. in a couple of days, same photograph was circulating on net, without mentioning its source. Those who forwarded the mail to other recipients cleared the trailing chain, with a view to give notion that the photograph was theirs.
Now-a-days there are numerous internet sites, facebook pages, group portals etc. which have really become part of our life. Every day, scores of photographs, at times descriptive materials, are exhibited without mentioning their source. The idea only seems to get one's name registered as provider of quality material on net, without bothering how it hurts a person who must have spent days and weeks to click such photographs or write the texts. At times, many of our journals just pick up the material, print it and don't care to mention the original source or site.
The position with regard to re-production of news is also not so good. We tend to re-produce a news item in our journals (only to take lead over others) without quoting the source, thus pretending to be the original source ourselves. How it negates the efforts of those who feed the internet sites with news in good faith and without any emoluments, can only be imagined.
It is right time we start giving credit to those who it belongs to and not abuse the intellectual property rights in the guise of reaching people at large.
Contact editor at : firstname.lastname@example.org
By Maharaj Krishen Raina
It is a privilege and an honour to serve one's community in any manner one can and I feel honoured to have been entrusted with the task of editing 'Milchar', the mouthpiece of Kashmiri Pandits’ Association, Mumbai once again. I am particularly grateful to the President and other office bearers of the KPA who have reposed confidence in me and considered me competent for this job. I shall endeavour to come up to their expectations and address the aspirations of our esteemed readers and members of the biradari.
I have been associated with this magazine earlier also and I am conscious of the fact that this task is onerous and challenging. I, however, accept this job on the strength of three most essential factors. Firstly I resolve that I shall put in all my ability in carrying out this difficult but rewarding work earnestly and honestly. Secondly I feel assured that my writer friends will stand by me in writing for this magazine on various topics of interest to our community. Thirdly and most importantly, I am confident that our readers will help us in making this magazine a great publication by giving their views and suggestions from time to time.
We have set a very high standard for 'Milchar', which we will try to reach in as short a period as possible. It will be a tri-lingual journal (English, Hindi, Kashmiri), carrying articles on our culture and civilization, our tradition, our rituals and rich heritage of philosophy, thought and life-style. It will reflect on contemporary problems confronting the community and highlight the activities that are carried out from time to time to strengthen the mutual bondage and further the interests for the common good. We shall also try to give glimpses of our literature, both past and present and an account of personalities who have or are serving the community selflessly and sincerely. We invite articles on these and allied subjects from our honoured writers. We also request that some of them may like to write for every issue of this journal serially, for which we shall be pleased to reserve suitable space. 'Milchar' will no doubt carry the news about the members of the community living in and around Mumbai and give priority to their views and suggestion.
We intend to make 'Milchar' a Monthly journal in a short span of time. We will also ensure that a copy of this journal reaches every KP home at least in Mumbai, to start with. We would like to request members of the biradari to pay subscription for 'Milchar' on a regular basis, to make it self-financing and appear regularly without breaks. Those members of the community who wield influence in commercial circles can be of great help. They are specially requested to bring in regular advertisements for this magazine so as to make it financially sound and qualitative superb.
An exclusive page captioned 'Your Own Page' has been introduced from this issue to carry exclusive photographs, news, achievements, laurels etc. of the members of biradari and their children. Input in this regard will be highly appreciated.
By Maharaj Krishen Raina
Kashmiri language, our mother tongue is really in a bad shape. Firstly, we reduced it to a third category language, taking pride to speak in English (followed by Hinglish or Hindustani) most of the time and with most of our intimates, even with our spouse and children. Our logic is simple; what use is the language which can not give us degrees and livelihood? What use again when it is not spoken anywhere in the world except Kashmir where our chances of going back are remote. Arguments may sound convincing but we conveniently forget that a language (read mother-tongue) not only acts as a binding force for a community, but also confers upon it a distinct mark of identification. Shri A.K.Misri of Bandra, Mumbai advocates speaking in Kashmiri not only because this way we can keep our mother-tongue alive, but we can also secretly communicate with each other if cornered in an alien atmosphere. Apart from spoken words, literature is a vast medium which nurtures and promotes a language and preserves it for posterity.
Till 1990, most of the literary works created in Kashmiri language, whether by Kashmiri Muslims or by Kashmiri Pandits, were in Nastaliq, the Persio-Urdu Script. This script was the officially recognized script for Kashmiri language (and still is), recognized not only by the government of Jammu and Kashmir but also by the Government of India. One could claim government grant for a publication only if his/her creation was in this script. This treatment discouraged those who wanted to write in Devanagari Script. Post 1990 exodus, there was a big change. KPs started writing in Devanagari Script in a big way and plethora of literature got churned out in community magazines throughout the country.
While, this was considered a good omen for the Kashmiri literature, it brought to notice another big challenge in the shape of varied scripts adopted by the writers. Every writer had his/her own way of writing, using dots, lines, circles etc. at will. There was no coordination and no conformity in writing.
Koshur Samachar of New Delhi assumed central importance in this regard. It used a set of diacritical marks to indicate vowels peculiar to Kashmiri language with the Nagari letters, but devising a universally acceptable uniform script remained a problem. In December 1995, a committee of the editors of Koshur Samachar (New Delhi), Kashyap Samachar (Jammu) and the Secretary of the Vikalp (Delhi) met and agreed on adopting certain diacritical marks for the peculiar Kashmiri sounds. The linguistic experts however were not fully satisfied. They wanted to do some more work to upgrade the script by modifying the already employed symbols and diacritical marks, to suit requirement of the language. This led to formation of an expert committee led by Dr. Roop Krishen Bhat, which organized various workshops to finalise the Script. The experts who worked hard along with Dr. Roop Krishen Bhat included Dr.S.N.Bhat Haleem, Dr. S.S.Toshakhani, Dr. O.N.Koul, Prof. C.L.Sapru, Prof. R.L.Shant, Dr. S.N.Raina, Dr. R.K.Bhat and Dr. Raj Nath Bhat. As a software expert, Shri Sandeep Bhat of Pune was closely associated with the Committee. Shri M.K.Kaw, the then Secretary, Ministry of Human resources, Government of India also showed keen interest in devising this material in the interest of Kashmiri language. Subsequently, a Primer and a Reader, edited by Dr. Roop Krishen Bhat were released by the Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore in association with Samprati, Jammu in August 2003, thus providing a complete Standardised Devanagari Script for Kashmiri. Project ZAAN of Mumbai also released the revised version of ‘Basic Reader for KashmiriLanguage’ employing the Standardised Devanagari-Kashmiri Script, in June 2004. Shri Sandeep Bhat developed the exclusive software for the language named ‘Arinimal’around the same time. In due course of time,an upgraded software namely Akruti- Kashmiri-Arinimal Engine was developed by the Cyberscape Multimedia Ltd. at a cost of about Rs. 75000.00. This software was made available free of cost at the All India Kashmiri Samaj, New Delhi.
There are only a few KP journals in India which include Kashmiri Sections. It is very unfortunate that all of them are not employing the Standardised Devanagari-Kashmiri Script for the Kashmiri language. Koshur Samachar of New Delhi, which is a prestigious magazine of the KP Community, in particular has been using the same old scripts, varying from author to author, thus nullifying all the good work done by experts over the years. In spite of the software made available free of cost by the All India Kashmiri Samaj, New Delhi, one fails to understand what prohibits a prime magazine of the community to switch over to new Script. All those who love this language and who want this language not to perish but to flourish along with its scripts, need to come forward and impress upon the authors, printers, editors and proof readers of all the community magazines to switch over to new Script so that there is uniformity in writing which in turn wi ll make it easily comprehensible. This will be a small but an important step in the direction of preserving and promoting our mother-tongue.
It is worth mentioning here that non-Kashmiris like Pravin Satpute of Maharashtra and Anshuman Pandey of University of Michigan, USA have been working on technical aspects of the Kashmiri Scripts for a long time. Pravin Satpute is labouring hard with the Commission of Scientific and Technical Terminology, Government of India to get the special characters of the Standardised Devanagari-Kashmiri Script included in the UNICODE and Anshuman Pandey has already submitted (and reportedly accepted) a proposal to Encode the Sharada Script in ISO/IEC. There are some more from our own biradari involved in the process at various levels who deserve kudos but lack of interest of the general masses in their own mother-tongue is a matter of great concern. It is still time we ponder over it.
By Maharaj Krishen Raina
For quite some time now, there has been a debate on the internet whether we need to say ‘Mubarak’ or ‘Poushta’ while greeting on Herat, Navreh etc. Some enthusiasts, particularly from our younger generation, strongly advocate removal of word ‘Mubarak’ from the Kashmiri vocabulary on the plea that it is a Persian word thrusted upon us during the Afghan rule, while, according to their views Poushta is the original word which we need to put to use instead. While persuading people to use words like ‘Poushta’wherever suited, can not be termed as wrong, discontinuation of use of words like ‘Mubarak’ can only be detrimental to the Kashmiri language. It is ‘Mubarak’ today, itcan be another word tomorrow. Do we need to cleanse our language of all the words which we think are Persian or Arabic in nature, hence alien.
In today’s world, there is freedom of speech. Any body and every body is entitled to put forth his or her views on any subject and invite people to listen to him or her. However, the freedom of speech does not mean one should enforce one’s views without conviction. In the first place, we need to understand the evolution of Kashmiri language.
Vedic Sanskrit is the original source of our language because it is said to have been the language people of Kashmir spoke about six thousand years back. Some people argue that Kashmiri has nothing to do with Sanskrit. In their opinion, main source of the Kashmiri language is Dardi and many of its words have come from Shina. Again a section believes that F Kashmiri has also been influenced by Ibrani spoken by Jews, who lived in Kashmir long back. European scholar Buhler even suggests that Kashmiri is more akin to Sindhi than to Sanskrit.
In a research article, Late Ramchand Kaul states that Kashmiri language went through many changes and adopted words from Chinese, Tibetan, Russian, Persian, Arabic, Punjabi etc. to reach the present state. Another European Scholar G.T.Vane has come to this conclusion that Kashmiri language is comprised of 50 % Sanskrit, 10 % Persian, 5 % Hindi and 2 % Arabic words, rest of the words are Tibetan, Dardi and Dogri. So, will it be worthwhile to free our language of all Persian and Arabic words? I am sure, not. Even Mahamahopadhyaya Mukund Ram Shastri and Sir George Grierson have not been able to do so while compiling the Dictionary of Kashmiri Language.
In one of the e-mails addressed to our young generation, Shri T.N.Dhar Kundan, our Consulting Editor and a well known scholar has rightly said that a language grows by adopting and assimilating words from other languages. Once this is stopped there will be stagnation. Taking cue from Kundan Sahib, I would like to ask if we can have replacement for the words directly borrowed from Persian and Arabic like etc. which we so vehemently use in our daily life.
By Maharaj Krishen Raina
Milchar Nov-Dec 2011
Photo Courtesy: Wangnooheritagetours
Gangabal Lake (Lat: 34.4333, Long: 74.925) is situated at the foot of the north-eastern glacier of Mount Harmukh, at an altitude of about 3570 Meters (Francis Brunel, the author of ‘Kashmir’ puts the altitude at 3657 Meters). It is said to be the true source of Kashmir Ganga and is hence known as ‘Uttarganga’. It is the final goal of great ‘Haramuktaganga’ pilgrimage. Lake’s turquoise coloured sheet of water lends a subtle charm to the valley which is known as the ‘Hardwar of Kashmir’.
Water from glaciers collects into the Gangabal Lake, which subsequently flows down to another lake nearby called Nundkol (Lat: 34.4166, Long: 74.9333) and then into the Sindh River at Kangan. Gangabal is the most enchanting trekking destination in the entire Kashmir valley and can be reached from Sonamarg via Kishansar and Vishansar (about 4 days trek), from Kangan via Wangath and Narain Naag (1 day trek), and from Chattergul via Mahalish and Brahmasar (1-2 days trek). Most difficult part of the trek, when going via Narain Naag is Buth Sher, which is very steep and difficult to climb.
Trekking routes to Gangabal are open from July to October. For rest of the year, the area is covered with very thick layer of snow, making it inaccessible. Gangabal Lake is famous for rainbow trout fishing. The fishing season is from March to October.
The trekking route from Sonamarg across Nichinai pass meanders along a number of lakes namely Kishansar, Vishansar, Yamsar, Gadasar, Satsar and Nundkol. Kishansar, Vishansar and Nundkol lakes are also stocked with trout fish.
Since ancient times, the Gangabal trek has been the most sacred pilgrimage of Hindus. An annual fair is held here in the third week of August. However post eruption of militancy in 1990, the route was closed by the government to stop infiltration and exfiltration into and out of the Valley. Kalhana Pandit has mentioned in Rajatarangini that the Gangabal trail had been used in ancient times by many Kashmiri rebels including famous King Bhoja to take shelter in the Dard area of Gurez and Tilel.
Gangabal Lake is 2.70 Kms. Long and about 1.00 Km at the widest point. It is in the shape of Shivas foot. Maximum depth of the lake is 83 Mtrs. Nundkol is 1.25 Kms long and about 400 Meters at the widest point.
There are a number of peaks atop Mount Harmukh. The ancient name of the peaks is Haramukta. Hindus believe that these peaks are the abode of Lord Shiva. A Kashmiri tradition stoutly maintains that human feet can never touch the Harmukh summit. It is said when Sir Aurel Stein scaled the peaks along with some Kashmiri Muslim coolies in 1894, he experienced great difficulty in convincing his Brahman friends, who just would not believe. The argument they offered was simple; if anybody scaled the peaks, then it cannot be Haramukta. Sir Aurel Stein says that on reaching the top, one gets confused as there are many similar summits and it is difficult to tell which one is the real top?
‘Kashmir’ by Francis Brunel;
‘Gangabal Lake’ by Mohammed Ashraf;
Archives - Project Zaan
By Maharaj Krishen Raina
Milchar Jan-Feb 2012
Photo Courtesy : Yogesh Masuria
Wular Lake, the largest fresh water lake in India, is situated at a distance of about 40 Kms. towards north-west of Srinagar. It is said to be formed as a result of tectonic activity.
Wular Lake is about 189 Sq. Kms. in area which varies from season to season. It lies at an altitide of 1580 Mtrs. It has a length of 16 Kms. and a breadth of 10 Kms. Its maximum depth is 14 Meters. The deepest part of the Lake is known as Mota Khon which means Gulf of Corpses. The Sopore and Bandipora towns are located on its banks.
Jhelum river evacuates into the Wular Lake at Banyari, which is 40 Kms. from Srinagar and again separates at Ningli. The flood water of river Jhelum acts as a natural reservoir. The catchment area of the Lake is covered with coniferous forests, alpine pastures and orchards which add to the scenic beauty of the lake.
The Wular Lake plays a significant role in the hydrographic system of the Kashmir valley by acting as huge absorption basin for annual flood water. The Lake and its surrounding marshes have an important natural wildlife. The Lake is the home to as many as 50 species of aquatic animals and several migratory and resident birds which include waterfowl species such as Little Egzet (Egretta garzetta), Cattle Egzet (Bubulcus ibis), Shoveler (Anas clypeata), Common Pochard (Aythya farina) and Mallard. Birds like Marbled Teal (Marmaronetta angustirostris) and Pallas´s Fish-eagle (Haliaeetus leucoryphus) are species listed in the Red List of IUCN. Many terrestrial bird species observed around the lake are Short-toed Eagle (Circaetus gallicus), Little Cuckoo (Piaya minuta), European Hoopoe (Upupa epops), Monal Pheasant (Lophophorus impejanus) and Himalayan Pied Woodpecker (Dendrocopos himalayensis albescens).
In 1986, the lake was designated as a Wetland of National Importance under the Wetlands Programme of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India for the purpose of conservation and management. In 1990, it was assigned as a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention.
The rivers Bohnar, Madamati and Erin from the mountain ranges and the rivers Vitasta (Jhelum) and the Ningal from the south bring hundreds of tons of silt into the lake every year. This rampant siltation and the human encroachments have devastating effects on the lake.
[Sources: 'Indianetzone-Geography of India', 'SAVE' and 'Project Zaan Archives']
Milchar March-April 2011
Tele-conference was organised by the US based KP Diaspora with Mr. Dileep Padgaonkar, Chief Interlocutor on Kashmir appointed by Government of India on 5th February 2011, where Mr. Padgaonkar answered direct questions from the community members stationed across globe. The programme was conducted by Surinder Kaul of Houston, USA with the active co-ordination of Jagan Kaul (Oregon), Jeevan Zutshi (California), Rakesh Kaul (New Jersey), Lalit Koul (Massachusets), Mrs. Krishna Bhan (UK), Mrs. Swapna Raina (Maryland), Deepak Ganju (Florida), Bansi Tikku (California), Veer Khar (New Zealand), Kamal Hak and Dr. Agnishekhar (India). Mr. Ashok Bhan, a prominent community persona and a legal eagle facilitated the interaction with Mr. Padgaonkar. Reproduced below, are the Questions asked and Answers given by Mr. Padgaonkar.
Transcription By Maharaj Krishen Raina, Mumbai
Question 1: Ms Meenakshi Raina from Paris: There are three dominant political streams flowing in Kashmir. One seeks Kashmir’s merger with Pakistan, second one aspires for Independent Kashmir and the third one articulated by mainstream political party’s call for greater autonomy with a very limited role for India in its affairs. Hon’ble lead interlocutor sir, my question is - what dispensation do you envisage for the effective return of the displaced Kashmiri Pundit Diaspora to their ancestral homeland under these political thoughts.
Dileep Padgaonkar: Meenakshi, in the four visits that we have made to Jammu & Kashmir, one thing that is absolutely clear to us is that for the past sixtythree years the big mistake that has been made is to look at the entire problem of Jammu & Kashmir from the prism of the Kashmir valley. The entire issue has been projected as a Muslim-majority state vs a Hindu-majority India. This is patently untrue. The fact of the matter is that the political aspirations of the three regions of the state namely Kashmir, Jammu & Ladakh are not only diverse, they are even divergent. And therefore, the big challenge before us as interlocutors is to try and ensure that each region in Jammu & Kashmir and every community, ethnic, religious or otherwise within every region is able to fulfill its political, social, economic and cultural aspirations. In this context, the people who have been uprooted from their homes, are for us, a priority challenge. And the reason is that they were forced out of their homes because of intimidation, because of fear and above all, because of violence. The Kashmiri Pandits are absolutely the top priority as far as we are concerned. But please also understand that there have been others who have been also uprooted from their homes. These are people who came from West Pakistan because of wars in 47-48, 65 and 71. They have not yet been given even the status of permanent residence. They are few in number but they are human, situation is extremely ??. So to answer your question, our attempt is to find out to what extent Kashmiri Pandits will be able to return to their homeland and live there in harmony, live there in peace, live there above all free from fear and intimidation with their honour and dignity intact. This is a huge challenge. We have at the moment, heard several Kashmiri Pandit organizations during the past four visits and many of them have given us various kinds of proposals. We have heard today the proposal of a separate geographical unit within Kashmir in order to ensure that Kashmiri Pandits are able to return there in security. But there have been several other proposals which have come from KP organizations. We are examining all of them to find out what is durable, what is feasible. The end result however, must be, and I repeat, must be one which fulfills the dreams of the exiled Kashmiri Pandits to live a life of honour and dignity in their own homeland.
Question 2: Mr. Veer Khar from New Zealand: It has been historically established that Kashmiri Pandits have been subjected to a forcible and inhuman exodus once every hundred years during last seven centuries. The community has always gone back to its roots and wants to do so again. The question is: Have the Hon’ble Interlocutors thought of a dispensation for the displaced community that will provide them the constitutional guarantees for their safety and prevent further displacements?
Dileep Padgaonkar: Our foremost concern, to begin with, is to ensure that the Kashmiri Pandits who are living in miserable conditions in camps in the Jammu region are able to ameliorate their situation. We have been visiting these camps very often, we have held discussions with them, we have found out what their immediate needs and concerns are, and what strikes you above all, is that Kashmiri Pandits have remained true to their vocation, which they say is a) to learn and b) to teach. They would like to make sure that their children have a much brighter future than they have, and children’s future has to be within their own homeland. Beyond the immediate concerns of rehabilitation, which is an ongoing effort, we have made several recommendations in this regard. The central government and the state government have accepted these recommendations and these are being implemented. However, the larger political question remains. And as I said earlier, we have got several options which we are going to examine and these options have come from within the Kashmiri Pandit community. Various community organizations have spoken to us, we have obviously not yet made up our minds because we are just three months into our job but let me assure you that it is of the foremost interest to us to ensure that the deepest desire and dreams of Kashmiri Pandits to return to their homes, is something uppermost in our minds. How best to do it, how efficaciously to do it, is something we are looking into. The key really, as far as I am concerned, is that the Kashmiri Pandits must be given a stake in the power equation in Jammu & Kashmir. They must be represented in proportionate numbers in all levels of self governance across the State. The Kashmiri Pandits were once, who were prominent in the administration of the state, their numbers have dwindled next to zero. I think that is completely un-natural, unfair and therefore what we are aiming at, is that the Pandit community must be given a political stake, a high political stake in the governance of Jammu & Kashmir. How to do it, what forms this will take, are issues that we are examining at present, and we hope that by the time we end our mandate, we will come up with an answer.
Question 3: Dr. Surinder Kaul from USA: Hon’ble sir, let us assume a hypothetical scenario where in Mr. Padgaonkar belongs to Kashmiri Pandit community and is exploited on the pretext of job under Hon’ble Prime Ministers job package and asked to sign a draconian contract and compelled to go back to Kashmir in similar situation from where he was persecuted, humiliated and ejected. Sir, my question is -how will you react and what will be your response and coming on to main question on this subject matter -Have the interlocutors taken cognizance of the terms of such employments and how do they propose to impart basic human dignity to the employment package for the displaced community youth.
Dileep Padgaonkar: I would also have liked to respond to the three earlier speakers, but I leave it to the Moderator to tell me when I can do that. …… Let me directly answer the question that has been raised by Mr. Surinder Kaul. Yes absolutely, the interlocutors have been seized of the question regarding employment opportunities to Kashmiri Pandit youth in ?? . We have asked and received the statistics ?? for most to understand the extent of the problem. You mentioned in particular the package of the Prime Minister and on this count there are three things which I would like to say. The Central government as you know, has agreed that it is going to ?? towards the salary of 3000 youth until they are absorbed against posts in the State government within a specified frame work. There are 9000 other unemployed youth and their employment would also be facilitated to get financial assistance, to come up with self-employment and business ventures. On the question of those Kashmiri Pandits who wish to return to Valley and set up income generating units, the government has already announced a cash assistance for each of them as well as service. When we have been discussing Kashmiri Pandits in Jammu, we have been told that on paper all this seems very fine but in practice, there are huge number of bureaucratic hassles and our endeavour therefore as interlocutors have been to draw the attention of the Central government and the State government in the recommendations we have made to them, to ensure that these hassles are lifted. There is one critical issue however namely that the kind of jobs that have been allocated for migrant youth, should be come back to the Valley. There is obviously reluctance and understandable reluctance on the part of many of them to say that they can not go back until and unless the security environment in Kashmir becomes conducive to such a return. We are therefore trying to see whether as a temporary measure, it is possible for them to be absorbed in jobs in Jammu itself. This is a hugely difficult matter but as interlocutors it is our hope that the Central government and the State government will find ways and means of absorbing these youth. Similarly, we have now received a lot of enquiries from entrepreneurs in the rest of India saying they are prepared to work for partnerships in order to start small businesses in Kashmir and in Jammu as well. These are things that we are pursuing. I would Mr. Kaul request you to be a little patient. We have just been ?? of 3 months. These matters have been lingering for more than twenty years after the forced displacement of the Pandits from the Valley. Give us a little time and we will see whether our efforts lead to some difference in the ??situation.
Question 4: Ms. Koshni Compassi from London: National Human Rights Commission of India is on record having stated the circumstances that forced out the entire minority of Kashmiri Pandits from their homeland are akin to genocide. This can be a seen as a serious indictment of the executive responsibility of that time. Subsequently, neither the state apparatus in Jammu and Kashmir nor the executive at centre as taken cognizance of NHRC’s findings. We believe this has also contributed to the neglect and apathy shown towards the displaced community for last twenty years. The question, therefore, is: Will the Hon’ble Interlocutors take a note of this serious miscarriage of justice and include redressel measures in their recommendations to Government of India.
Dileep Padgaonkar: Thank you very much for the question. Let me tell you that right from the very first report that we submitted to the government, we have recommended that the Human Rights Commission of the state of Jammu & Kashmir, which has not been functioning effectively, should be made to function effectively. And that its ?? and its proceeding should be along the lines of the National Human Rights Commission. In addition, we have also requested that the Rights to Information Act which has been passed by the State government should be given more teeth. I am happy to inform you that less than a week ago, it was finally decided to appoint a Chief Information Commissioner for the RTI and you are now likely to witness a flood of complaints that will be received regarding all matters of concern to citizens including Kashmiri Pandits. This may relate to allocation of jobs, out of turn housing, medical facilities and so on and so forth. But in terms of justice, in terms of violations of rights, way out is to have a more effective state human rights commission and this is going to be our endeavour. We have spoken about this to the Home Minister and to the Chief Minister and I am glad to inform you that both of them have responded in a most encouraging manner. I think we ought to give them a little bit of time to ensure that along with the RTI and other institutions like the Accountability Commission, the HRC will also begin to function effectively in the weeks and months ahead.
By Maharaj Krishen Raina
Post-exodus, much Kashmiri literature has been produced by both well-known and not-so-well-known Kashmiri authors from various parts of the country. This literature on various subjects and topics, including creative works in prose and poetry, has been written in Devnagari-Kashmiri Script because the majority of the community especially the women and youngsters are not familiar with Urdu and hence Nastaliq, the Urdu-based script of Kashmiri. Without Devnagari this body of literature being produced would be inaccessible to them. Indeed, after losing homes, our younger generations face the spectacle of losing the mother tongue itself unless suitable measures like making books in the Devanagari script available are taken. Recently evolved Standardized Devnagari-Kashmiri Script has provided a sound means to writers to write in Devnagari without any problem on account of the peculiar Kashmiri sounds Since the Standardised Devnagari-Kashmiri Script is yet to find favour with the present governments, both State and Central, for its recognition as an additional script for Kashmiri language, the literature produced in this script generally remains in an orphaned state for the want of aid and recognition from the literary circles. This leaves a wide gap between the material written and the material published and often the material remains unpublished and hence confined to the custody of an author’s desk. This is not to say that no suchbooks are presently published. A good number of books of new as well as renowned authors are being published from Jammu, Delhi and other places, of course with funds mostly managed by authors themselves. Knowing that there are not sufficient returns on such books by way of sale, the author only gets discouraged from attempting it a second or a third time.
In view of the apathy of the government towards Devnagari-Kashmiri script and writers’ inability toget their material printed and published for mass readership because of heavy financial implications, it is necessary to pool our resources and raise some sort of fund for the purpose, so that a good work does not remain under wraps. For this purpose, in the first instance, we need to form a Central Organization to take up the mantle of an overseeing body, which would have the authority to scrutinize the material fit for publication and have enough funds to finance its printing and publishing, partly or wholly. We also need to encourage writers who adopt the Devnagari-Kashmiri Script, with Awards/Mementos in recognition of their work, primarily to encourage quality literature and to give the deserving writers due recognition pending encouragement by the Government or Government agencies, which in present circumstances is a far cry. Besides no good literature can be produced without the best literature in the language being available to the writers. Here unfamiliarity with Urdu/Nastaliq has practically closed the classical and other literary treasure to the general readers as well as many writers. We need to take up projects so that the huge body of Kashmiri literature is made available in Devnagari script.
There are a number of organizations in the country which have some thing to do with the literature. Prominent among them, as far as we can visualize, is the SAMPRATI of Jammu. This organization has, in addition to the normal work it is doing, the publication of the PRIMER and the READER in Standardised Devanagari-Kashmiri to its credit. Though the Project Zaan of Mumbai is also doing some work on Kashmiri literature, Kashmiri Language and the Kashmiri Culture, having also published the ‘Basic Reader for Kashmiri Language’and a series of Information Digests, it will not be ina position to assume a central status being far away from Delhi and Jammu, where the bulk of literature is being produced. SAMPRATI in this regard can be one such organisation to handle the issue.
However, consideration of an alternative organisation in Jammu or Delhi can not be ruled out. This is where we need to put our heads together and arrive at a unanimous choice of a sound platform for our literary works. It is hoped that the intelgentsia among us willingly gives this suggestion a serious thought.
By Maharaj Krishen Raina
Ayurveda - The science of life and longevity, is the most ancient healing system from India. It stresses the mind-body relationship in the maintenance of good health. Ayurveda is classed among sacred sciences and considered as a supplement of the Atharva-veda. It contains eight departments:
As in other Asian medical practices, a balance of vital energy, in this case Prana, is considered the key. The system is based on balancing three basic life forces, or Doshas -
Illness occurs when any of the Doshas is out of sync; individuals must know their dominant Dosha and follow a diet and lifestyle that keeps it balanced with the others.
Ayurveda, is believed to be about5000 years old, predating all other medical systems. The two classic Ayurveda textbooks are more than 2000 years old. Charaka-samhita named after Charaka who was the ayurvedic counterpart of Hippocrates, outlines the principles of health maintenance and treatment of disease. Another book named Sushruta-samhita describes elaborate surgical procedures, including reconstructive plastic surgery, gallbladder removal, and other operations that most people consider modern.
Sushruta, the author of Sushrutasamhita, is believed to have lived around 6th century B.C. and is said to have imbibed his knowledge from Dhanwantri. It is believed that Sushruta's work was also revised and supplemented by Nagarjuna between the 3rd and 4th centuries A.D.
A traditional story about the origin of Ayurveda, elucidates that Brahma imparted this knowledge to Prajapati Daksha, who in turn passed it on to the two Ashwinikumaras. From Ashwinikumaras, this knowledge passed on to Indra and then to Sage Bhardwaja. Bhardwaja shared it with other sages, one of them was Punarvasu Atreya. Atreya passed it on to his disciples. Based on the knowledge thus imparted, Agnivesha, one of Atreya's disciple authored a treatise, which came to be known as Agnivesha-tantra. This work of Agnivesha was revised and enlarged by Charaka around the 5th century A.D. in the form of Charaka-samhita.
A Couplet from 'Essentials of Ayurveda' by Dr. C.L.Gupta reads:
(Madhava is unrivalled in Diagnosis, Vagbhatta in Principles and Practice of Medicine, Susruta in Surgery and Charaka in Therapeutics.)
Charaka-samhita in its present form is the handiwork of another Kashmiri Pandit namely Dridhabala, who revised and updated Charaka's work in the 9th century A.D. Dridhabala, the son of Kapilaba is said to have born in village Pantsinor, the confluence of River Vitasta and Sindhu. Another legend tells us that Shesha, the Serpent- king, who was the recipient of Ayur-veda, once visited earth and found it full of sickness. He was moved with pity and determined to become incarnate as the son of a Muni for alleviating disease. He was called Charaka, because he had visited the earth as a Chara (spy). He then composed a new book on medicine, called Charakagrantha, based on older works of Agni-vesha and other pupils of Atreya.
Laying to rest, the controversy regarding Charaka's birth place, the Buddhist literature discovered by Prof. Sylavan Levi in China, shows that Charaka's birth place was Kashmir and he was, the court-poet of Kanishka in the Ist century A.D.
Popularity and spread of Ayurveda:
Ayurvedic medicine spread with the Hindu culture to Indonesia, Tibet, and eventually to the West, where some of its principles were picked up by the ancient Greek physicians. As Buddhism developed, this healing system was carried to China and other Asian countries.
During the 1800s, the British banned all ayurvedic schools in India, replacing them with Western medical schools. For the next century, ayurvedic medicine was relegated to folk practices in rural areas. When India regained its independence in 1947, ayurvedic schools were again legalised. Today there are more than100 ayurvedic schools in India, equal in number to the Western ones, and many Indian physicians incorporate both styles of medicine into their practices.
When is it used:
Unlike Western medicine, which comes into play when illness strikes, Ayurveda is incorporated into a person's lifestyle. It governs all aspects of life, such as diet, exercise and sexual practices. An ayurvedic practitioner is consulted only to identify and correct an imbalance among the three life forces.
How it works:
Ayurvedic philosophy holds that each person is born with a particular ratio of Doshas, with one dominating. This dominant Dosha determines personality type and also influences one's susceptibility to certain illnesses. For example, Pitta people tend to have fiery dispositions and are prone to developing high blood pressure and digestive disorders, so a Pitta-related disease may be treated with a bland diet and numerous herbal remedies. Because the mind is seen as an integral force in maintaining health and overcoming illness, meditation or yoga may also be employed.
Diagnosis of the disease and treatment:
An ayurvedic doctor begins by assessing the patient's Dosha pattern. Pulses play a critical role in this assessment - a practitioner feels pulses throughout the body, looking for Dosha imbalances as reflected in the nature of pulse. Seven types of body tissue - plasma, red blood cells, muscle, fat, bone, nerve and reproductive tissue - are also examined. Ayurvedic physicians do not focus on a specific disease or an organ system, but instead treat the entire body and mind. Purification to rid the body of toxins is an important part of treatment. Methods may include sweat baths, enemas, nasal washes, bloodletting, and oil massages. The practitioner will also recommend a specific diet, meditation or yoga routine, and herbal remedies.
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